An Israeli strike on Tuesday killed a top Hamas leader in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, AFP reported, citing an unidentified high-level security official.

Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of the militant group, was reportedly killed along with his bodyguards.

Another official told the news agency that the strike damaged a car and two floors of the targeted building, which housed a Hamas office in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a stronghold of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah.

However, Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told MSNBC in an interview that Tel Aviv was not responsible for the attack.

“But whoever did it, it must be clear – this was not an attack on the Lebanese state,” he added. “Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership.”

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack, calling it a “new Israeli crime” and an attempt to pull Lebanon into war.

Hundreds of Palestinians in Ramallah and other towns in the West Bank took to the streets to condemn Arouri’s killing.

The assassination would “undoubtedly ignite another surge in the veins of resistance and the motivation to fight against the Zionist occupiers, not only in Palestine but also in the region and among all freedom-seekers worldwide”, said Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson for the Iran foreign ministry.

When asked about Tel Aviv’s involvement in the attack, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari told Reuters that the armed forces are “focused on killing Hamas” without elaborating further.

Arouri, 57, is the first senior leader to be killed since Israel’s war on Gaza began three months ago. The war was triggered by a Hamas incursion on October 7 into southern Israel, which resulted in 1,200 people getting killed. The group had also taken over 200 hostages.

Since then, relentless air and ground strikes by Israel have killed 22,185 in Gaza. Tel Aviv has maintained that the offensive is aimed at targeting the militant group.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday said the military is concentrating its operations in Khan Younis, southern Gaza’s main city, around areas above the tunnel network where Hamas leaders were allegedly hiding.

“We are reaching them all ways,” he told troops in Gaza in footage shown on Israeli television. “There already is engagement and there are [Israeli] hostages there too, sadly.”

Israel’s unprecedented air and ground strikes in Gaza have caused a humanitarian crisis in the territory, as nearly 85% of the population has been displaced, as several aid agencies have pointed out.

A report by the United Nations and other agencies released on Thursday said that over half a million people in Gazaa quarter of the populationare starving due to insufficient aid entering the territory.

The report warned that the risk of famine is “increasing each day”.